How does Priestley communicate his political views through the character of Mr. Birling in the play An Inspector Calls?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Mr. Birling represents everything that Priestley, as a socialist, despises. It's not so much that he's a wealthy industrialist; it's that he's a heartless wealthy industrialist with absolutely no sense of social responsibility. His callous behavior toward Eva Smith led directly to her suicide, ad even then, he felt no remorse for what he'd done. This symbolizes how Priestley sees England's dominant capitalist class: they ruin the lives of the poor without compunction, thinking only of their own selfish needs. Priestley doesn't simply present us with a narrowly political allegory in An Inspector Calls; he also wants to indict the prevailing system of capitalism on moral grounds, using the figure of Mr. Birling as the lead defendant in his withering indictment of an entire class.

Priestley, a convinced socialist, uses the character of Mr Birling to express his own political views in an interesting way. Mr Birling is anything but a socialist, being a successful, middle-class ‘hard-headed...

(The entire section contains 2 answers and 513 words.)

Unlock This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Start your 48-Hour Free Trial
Approved by eNotes Editorial Team